Once you get past the initial review of applicants who have responded to your job posting (reviewing their resume and cover letter, conducting an initial phone screening, etc.), it is time to whittle down the group who made that first pass even more and invite your top picks to come in for their first in-person interview.

Interviewing the “right way” can be daunting for many employers. There are so many things to keep in mind when interviewing appropriately, but all of the best tips seem to surround what to do/not to do when it comes to the questions asked. Here are a few basic things to keep in mind as you prepare for the interviewing process:

Asking the Right Questions

The whole point of an interview is to get more information. To allow the applicant to fill in any gaps and to get clarification on some points that caught your attention when reviewing the documents they provided. To ensure you get the most applicable information from your candidates, ask questions that are open-ended and probing in nature which will give them a chance to provide you with scenarios and examples that paint a picture into what type of employee they will be and how they will fit into your organization and team.

Avoiding the Wrong Questions

On the flip side, avoid asking questions that are telegraphed (closed ended) and would result in a “yes” or “no” answer. These types of questions often give the candidate some insight as to what answer you are seeking which you certainly want to steer clear of; honest responses, even those that may result in the applicant being rejected after the interview, are always what you want.

A huge point of anxiety for the interviewer, especially if this task is something they are unfamiliar with, is the fear of asking a question that will come back to bite them. While a lot of this is common sense, it is easy to unintentionally ask a question the wrong way or to ask a question in an attempt to build camaraderie only to find later that the question you asked may have not been legal to ask.

Avoid any questions that pertain to anything personal or those that are in no way pertinent to the job. Things like race or national origin, religion or lack thereof, family or marital status, pregnancy or children/childcare, citizenship or birthplace, or questions regarding illness or disability are all strong “don’t’s.” When in doubt as to whether the question is alright to ask or not – don’t.

In our next post we will dig into our archives and will address one of the components to the recruiting process that is just as important as the tips we have shared with you already: how to ensure the candidate is the “right fit.” An applicant can look great on paper, and can answer each question perfectly, but there are other things that can make or break the decision to hire such as whether or not they will be a good cultural match for your organization and established team.